Thursday, December 18, 2014

Top 2014 Albums

The time has again come to have a look at the past year in music and post my favorite albums.

One of the privileges of a Spotify premium subscription is the ability to listen to most new music as it's published. This is eroding, as music publishers rebel against Spotify's stingy royalty payout policies, and most of the new stuff coming out in Spotify's weekly offerings is pure crap. However, the list below contains 25 albums in chronological release order, all great. I've left out even more good, but not great albums (in my opinion) and so 2014 was definitely a good year for rock despite the infantile utterings of many pundits and people of my generation claiming that rock is dead and that nothing good has been made since the '70s (or whatever decade they're nostalgic for).

Without further ado, here they are. I give some info about each album and why I liked it. 

Artist   - Dum Dum Girls 
Album - Too True
Note -  Laid back, sleek indie melodies. One of the year's favs amongst the college crowd. 

Artist   - +++ (Crosses) 
Album - +++ (Crosses)
Note - This is a side project of Deftones' Chino Moreno and Far guitarist Shaun Lopez. Mostly chill stuff, a great listen with a few true standout tracks. 

Artist   - Real Estate
Album - Atlas
Note - Real Estate are an upcoming indie band from Brooklyn, and this album illustrates why. Pretty laid back, your neighbors won't complain.

Artist   - Drive By Truckers
Album - English Oceans
Note - Drive By Truckers appeal to the redneck side of me (what, you didn't know??). Some really good southern rock tracks here for all truckers and those jealous of truckers.

Artist   - The Hold Steady
Album - Teeth Dreams
Note - The Hold Steady are a gritty NYC band playing pretty awesome hard rock music. Each song here is a mini-story in its own.

Artist   - Sevendust
Album - Time Travelers and Bonfires
Note - If you're a Sevendust fan, this one doesn't disappoint. If not, it's time for you to become one. Sevendust is one of the best to come out of the grunge era.

Artist   - Ryley Walker
Album - All Kinds Of You
Note - A sweet surprise, like a summer afternoon breeze (not to overuse the term). Laid back guitar melodies, lots of pretty awesome acoustic guitar work in this one.

Artist    - Woods
Album  - With Light and With Love
Note - Psychedelia at its best. Close your eyes and imagine yourself in San Francisco 1968's summer of love. If you're too young for that, just light a joint and you'll get the idea. (I haven't had a joint lately, so will have to just think of the 60's)

Artist    - Pixies
Album  - Indie Cindy

Note - Pixies! what else to say? Great new material from the iconic indie band.

Artist    - Wye Oak
Album  - Shriek
Note - See my notes on the Dum Dum Girls album. Pretty much the same story here.

Artist    - Ray LaMontagne
Album  - Supernova
Note - Ray LaMontagne is a folk rock singer, crafting original and compelling tunes. Or in other words, a sleeper album that grows on you with time.

Artist    - Mastodon
Album  - Once More 'Round The Sun
Note - Most of my family and friends don't share my obsession with this Altanta-based hard rock outfit. This albums ranks with their very best and if you ever need a good head banger, this is the one to choose.

Artist    - Wunder Wunder
Album  - Everything Infinite
Note - Psychedelia, pretty chill. 

Artist    - Rise Against
Album  - The Black Market
Note - Punk, pretty aggro. But the music? awesome. 

Artist    - Big Wreck
Album  - Ghosts
Note - A Canadian band I had never heard of, but turns out they're pretty big north of the 49. This is honestly one of the best rock albums I've ever heard.

Artist    - Biffy Clyro
Album  - Similarities
Note - See notes for Big Wreck, except these lads are from Scotland. Aye!

Artist    - Spoon 
Album  - They Want My Soul
Note - Can Spoon get any better? These guys improve from album to album. Awesome.

Artist    - Johnny Marr
Album  - Playland
Note - Johnny Marr is the legendary Smiths guitarist who followed up on his 2013 solo release with this great album. Regrettably, he had to cancel his Seattle show earlier this month, but I hope to catch him next time.

Artist    - Royal Blood
Album  - Royal Blood
Note - First album for this really good band, sounding like The White Stripes on steroids. A must.

Artist    - Interpol
Album  - El Pintor
Note - Interpol fans will like this, even though it isn't their best release. A few standout tracks more than compensate for weakness in other ones.

Artist    - Temples
Album  - Sun Structures
Note - Laid back psychedelia. The very best.

Artist    - Weezer
Album  - Everything Will Be Alright In The End
Note - Weezer got their mojo back and everyone's invited to enjoy it. I look forward to seeing them in January.

Artist    - Yellowcard
Album  - Lift a Sail
Note - I was never a huge Yellowcard fan but this must rank as their very best, the melodies are really catchy.

Artist    - Billy Idol
Album  - Kings & Queens of the Underground
Note - Wow! I was never a huge Billy Idol fan in the day, but he goes all in on this album, track after track of hard driving melodic rock. I can't stop listening to this one.

Artist    - Foo Fighters
Album  - Sonic Highways
Note - A few of the recent FF releases kind of pissed me off, because I felt they were too loud and weak on the fundamentals (aka melodies). This one brings it back for me though, and with standout tracks like Outside and Subterranean you can't go wrong.

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